Expedition

Tomorrow I am heading west. My route is planned, my tools are packed, my armour laid out in preparation. A whole new adventure opens up before me. All dependent on me taking the correct exit from the motorway and not the portal to hell by mistake.

Here is a diddy fuchsia with matching diddy bee. I will be reporting back on my expedition, in due course, and this charming sight might keep you amused in the meantime.

Six on Saturday – New Friends

If it wasn’t for May, I think June would be my favourite month. There is still optimism in the air and the ravages of reality are yet to pay a visit. All is good. Anything is possible. Today is the first SoS of my second best month. All the pots have now been transported from the tender loving care of brother and sister-in-law’s garden to Peggy’s patio. I am very happy to be reunited. One was left behind, Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’. This glorious tree is part payment for their kindness and a magnolia really should have its feet in the earth and not in compost. What is more, there is a perfect spot for it. Luckily/unluckily, Lazarus the acer failed to rise again this spring so there is prime real estate ready for moving into. And of course I am not the only Heavens in town. If you would like to take stock of this fabulous month in all its glory, at the four corners of the known universe, than you could hardly do better than to visit The Gamemaster and see what the other SoSers have been up to. All good clean fun, I am quite certain. Now we really should proceed.

First a self-seeded scabious that is possibly the godzilla off-spring of Scabiosa ‘Blue Jeans’. It is already attracting attention from the local bee population.

Next we have Aquilegia ‘Egg’ so called because …. suddenly I have a distinct feeling of deju vu. As I have told you the story a few time before, I will just precis it as follows: farm, eggs, aquilegia, heinous crime.

The sempervivum are picking up, seemingly nonchalant as to whether their most glorious and talented mama are by their side or not. To be truthful the same can be said for all of the other plants. I am trying not to take it personally.

Onto my yearly joy at the flowering of Rhodohypoxis baurii or equivalent. I am very happy to be corrected in its identification, but not by the fact they are little gems of wonder.

Now, we have something flowering in the little tufa planter that in its Devon life languished in the Frozen North. It seems, for some unexplicable reason, that since it has been in more convivial conditions it is growing splendidly. Any answers to this conundrum, please put them on a postcard and send to The Guilty As Charged. I think it is a lithodora, but I’m not certain. But still this blue makes my toes tingle.

Lastly, we have Potentilla atrosanguinea cosing up to Lilium ‘Forever Linda’, I have a feeling in my bones that we are all going to get on very well here.

That is your lot, my friends, have fun and be safe, until next time.

Exciting

A few days ago I sowed some “just within the sow-by date but I wasn’t going to pay you any heed anyway” veggies. Some french beans, some broad beans and some cucumbers. “Do you mind if I put a few pots on the kitchen window cill?” I shouted through to Peggy, although in truth the deed was already done. I’m also planning some cut-and-come-again leaves and various oriental salad whose names escape me. I ran out of compost so they will have to be patient. I will grow them on in large pots and give them my undying love and affection. One cucumber seedling was eager to get going, having foolishly believed my intentions and declarations, greeting me this morning when I staggered into the kitchen. The sight of a germinating seed never gets any less exciting. And I like it that way.

Six on Saturday – Happy Landings

The day finally arrived. Who would have thought it? On Wednesday the removal men carted most of our belongings to storage, all but the bare essentials to tied us over. Yesterday we loaded the charabanc to the rafters, every single item apparently crucial, and off we tootled to the land of TJ, MB, SB and JK. Today will be the first, hopefully, of many Welsh Six on Saturday’s. We are currently camping out with Peggy, until we find a house of our own, so all these flowers are from her garden. Like a returning student daughter I brought a bag of dirty washing with me. We are very pleased to be here, but it has been a long week and exhausting both emotionally and physically. Therefore, this will possibly be short, but hopefully will be sweet. Just like me. Pop on over to The Prop to find out what is in with the horti in-crowd. Shall we proceed?

First we have a Choisya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’. I remember buying this at the local garden centre. It is lovely but outgrown its space. The area where it flourishes at the moment apparently wants to be dug out and replanted with so it is full of colour. Not sure where Peggy is going to find a gardener to sort that out.

There are plenty of weeds, that is true, but this dandelion is looking very pretty. Not so keen about the horsetail that seems to have appeared.

Then a cistus which is long and leggy in the shady front of the house. Not an ideal place but it is valiantly flowering.

Onto the charming (and unplanned) partnership of persicaria and Euonymus fortunii.

Then a rogue euphorbia, surreptitiously spreading at the back of the border. Still, the flowers are bizarrely beautiful.

Finally, this aquilegia was here to welcome us when we arrived. A reminder that wherever you lay your granny’s bonnet that’s your home.

We are done! Take care my friends. Now where did I pack that cement mixer?

Six on Saturday – The Long Goodbye

It has been a week of fare-thee-wells and packing; a few tears, plenty of reminising and a fair amount of box action. And we are not over quite yet, another week and a bit to go ’til M Day. I’m sure I will be lost for words when we are eventually settled into Nouveau Chez Nous (Fred?). Still all this turmoil is little excuse not to participate in the meme of champions, presided over by The Wizard of Prop and ably supported by multinational team of Munchkins. Time waits for no Munchie so let us proceed or we will never reach the Emerald City in time. Wagons Roll!

First we have Phlomis fruticosa, just coming into flower. I can’t praise this shrub highly enough for its resilience in the face of much torment and torture from wind and rain. It rocks and rolls all winter and then calmly produces a myriad of sunshine blooms. Top marks, my friend.

I am pretty certain that there used to be hyacinths where these flowers are blooming.  They seems a little loose to be hyacinths, but a little full flowered to be the evil Mata Hari known as the Spanish Bluebell.  Can these two related plants hybridise?  Are they Bluecyinths or Hybells?  Should I have a lie down?

There are undeniable signs that the Colquhounia coccinea has survived the winter. I gave a cutting to Jim last year which I believe flowered. This one has never flowered. Bitter? Moi?

Rain sodden strawberry flowers, escapees from the orginal pot, which are thriving jammed between wall stones. Read into that what you may.

If anyone is paying attention they might at this moment be sighing and thinking “what another aquilegia?”. However this one is featured as it is raising its head uncharacteristically in a “come on photograph me” kind of way. It was futile to resist. Either that or it was raining and I was in a hurry and looking for an easy option. You choose.

Lastly, you will have to indulge me once again. The above photo is not from my garden, but from Nancy Nightingale’s. This week was my last visit to her and her crazy garden. We dashed around in the rain, doing what we could whilst I gabbled instruction for the future. Things like “be gentle” and “I’ll be watching”. Digging a hole to plant out one of her many dahlias was enhanced/disrupted by puppy giant Snoop Dog, who admirably assisted me with my excavations. From my prone position, I noticed how he had carefully/fortuitously avoided the marigold with his great big delicious paws.

That is your lot, my friends. Have a good one and stay safe and well.

A New Friend

A couple of days ago I went for a farewell walk with my good friend Torrington Tina. Her company alone would have been more than enough to ensure a jolly jaunt, but there was icing on the TT cake. I was thrilled to be introduced to a new addition to her family, the Marvellous Millie. This little dog had a less than happy first few chapters, but for all her hardships and disappointments she is absolutely adorable. It is not a surprise that the transition from “foster dog” to “permanent addition to the household” was swift and non-returnable. And I am very pleased to report that Millie is now my friend. It is always good to have a new friend, even if you might not see them again for a while, it is one safely stored in the bank. I have no doubt that wrapped in the tender loving care and under the good guidance of TT, Millie will thrive and bring joy wherever she goes. She certainly made me smile a lot. Happy endings are the best!

Six on Saturday – Buddy

Time once more to join The Propagator in the jolly jaunt that is Six on Saturday. Before we get going, clutching at the slim chance that you might be interested, too late to protest I’m telling you anyway, I will update you on Life in General. This week has been an assortment of delights. Some might have been a little past their sell by date, but on whole the lead up to La Grande Move is progressing well (Fred will translate for you). The exception is the demon named EE, who are presently resident at the centre of the dart board. Although moving from one room to another entails negotiating chicanes of boxes full and boxes empty, demanding snake hips extraordinaire, we are coping admirably. 20 days to go. Shall we proceed?

Last weekend I accompanied Hero and another friend to a craft fair at Broomhill Art Hotel. It rained almost constantly, tipping from the moment we arrived to the second we left. When we arrived home it was apparent that not a drop had sullied the washing line. But all was not gloom. A delicious (although luke warm) truffle mac and cheese was scoffed in the drizzle and some very talented people admired. I had a nice chat with one stall holder who was selling tempting flower printed light shades and fabrics. The hot topic was the virtue of the bud. Yes, I am that exciting. Here is Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ not quite in flower, but nonetheless beautiful.

Aquilegia time is imminent and this is our garden forerunner. They are ever welcome and I hope will be loved as much as I have loved them. Then cursed for their wicked and wanton ways. It is the way of the world and cannot be defied.

I try not to mention Erigeron karvinskianus often, I much prefer to talk about fleabane. Just coming into flower, it is a great favourite. In fact, we have a much-loved water colour painting of this contrary plant. It is one I will be looking out for to grace the fabled and far off and perhaps ficticious (no!) “New Garden”.

Now a rather bizarrely cropped rose bud. More buds, more potential. This is Rosa ‘Peace’, I am led to believe, also a much loved plant. I attempted to take cuttings, but I was a) too late b) too impatient c) lacking motivation and they failed. It is not only a beautiful rose but a wonderful sentiment to pass on.

Osteospermum ‘JK’ has begun flowering. There is no need to take a cutting, I will be close enough to the real thing soon enough. Wish me luck.

This last one is not in my garden, but please bear with me. A few weeks ago a friend of mine died; too young, too cruel. Above the house where he lived is a nature reserve, which this time of year is blessed with an exuberance of orchids. A couple of years ago he was eager to share them in their full and bounteous beauty. When we reached the glorious zenith, he was just as thrilled as I was to see them, although he had walked there every day and this was my first visit. It is a moment that is held safe, for when a special memory is needed. Yesterday I went for a walk with his sorrowed partner, also a good friend. I had been thinking about the Cairn but had hesitated to suggest a visit, thinking it was insensitive. Instead, we travelled in the opposite direction taking the coast path, heading east not west. After a while we left the main path, investigating some old ways, pushing between trail-encroaching self-seeded sycamores, past cliff top rusting railings and fallen gateways. And then I saw it; a lone orchid, standing proud and defiant and, of course, most beautiful. It stopped me in my tracks. We only saw the one.

Until next time my friends. Take care.

Cloud Monster

It wasn’t until I looked at this photo of a beautiful and anonymous rhododendron in Max’s garden, that realised I had missed something. In the background, as I admired the most wonderful bee-hugging blooms, a cloud monster waved his arms in anger. I bet he was upset that I was ignoring his voluptuous curves, but it is so easy to be distracted by the plethora of blooms at the moment . Springtime is a tough one for cloud monsters.

Six on Saturday – The Cupboard Isn’t Bare

Earlier this week, my old man said follow the van and don’t dilly dally on the way. Never one to miss the opportunity for a little van following, off we scooted to South Wales, hot-tailing a Luton full of plants from our garden. These cherished ones are now residing in my brother’s garden, where I am sure they are being tended and cherished as if they were his own. Or perhaps his lovely wife is in charge of the T & C. I am confident they will be quite safe for the scant four weeks we have before we leave here. I mean what could go wrong in 4 weeks? Perhaps it is best not to dwell on the subject. Do not fear, my friends, there is plenty left in the garden to share in this week’s Six on Saturday and lots more to come. More spring/autumn madness, hemisphere dependent, can be found with The Prop and the gang, pop over and take a look. Shall we proceed?

First, we have my mini-greenhouse, emptied of its precious cargo, now holding a pair of my wellies and a pair of ousted trainers. Oh, and a couple of pots of late/early cuttings: big purple penstemon and a double purple osteo. These need a keener eye than the transported ones.

Next is the bronze fennel, yes, the one that I spent many happy hours removing every single piece of from The Bed of Anarchy. The moral of this story is that when you name a border you have to accept the consequences. And this glorious thug will follow us. Many of the pots that have been stored below are already blooming a purple skirt of seedlings.

Onto Lavandula pinnata which has strolled through winter, flowering intermittently whilst cocking a snook to the season. I forgot to take any cuttings, and it is too late now I suppose, still it might come my way again.

Now an osteospermum which had been in a pot, but has now been transferred into the garden. The flower is looking a little cold nipped; still a beauty though. I have had to make painful decisions as to which to abandon and which to take with me. It is happy here, so best left to its Devon destiny.

Next, a wild strawberry, which I am quite sure will continue to delightfully pop up around the garden. I have potted up some cultivated strawberries for the new owner, hopefully they will give her fruit this year.

Finally, Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Valentine’, nestled between the phlomis and hydrangea in The Frozen North. A little beauty and happy as Larry.

That is your lot. Same time, same place? Possibly different time, but same place. Take care my friends.

Defiance

I am rather fond of the Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Spessart’ growing in Max’s garden. It is thriving beneath a large magnolia, and is uncomplaining about shade or drought. The foliage not only forms a weed suppressing blanket, but as an added bonus the leaves are fragrant and colour crimson in autumn. The flowers, which are produced early in the season, long before any potentially upstaging competitors, are dark pink in bud and pale pink to white in full bloom.

This morning, when I saw the defiant dandelion in the midst of such harmony, a smile came to my face. Perhaps the intruder was shouting “stop me if you can!”. Or maybe I just imagined it. Maybe it was me.